An international group of experts on cognitive science has asserted that animals, including many that are much different from humans, experience the same degree of consciousness as humans. Per the article:


An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are ....What's also very interesting about the declaration is the group's acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans.... "Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness....The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking .... (bold added).

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oh you don't say......    LOL - finally someone realised - what a moment that must have been!

I'm not usually sarcastic - but I've been waiting for this for ages - and I'm sick of very annoying people going on about how humans are in some way special or different to the rest of animal life on earth - despite the fact that the love Dawkins and know all about evolution and consider themselves highly intelligent individuals......

Yeah, I know several Christians who still think that way ... even those who otherwise accept evolution.  Apparently that point in evolution in which God stuck our souls into our species broke us off from the rest of the animal kingdom.


Have you actually encountered that many atheists who think that way, though?  Hell, there are at least a couple dozen species that come vaguely close to our level of cognition.  Beyond that, it's kind of a fugly, confusing scale, when you start thinking about species that are drastically different from our own.

I just think this conversation went a bit awry when people began trying to apply self-awareness to insects.  They're so far off on another branch of the tree of life.  The branch that led to mammals developed higher brain functions, somewhere waaaaaaaay back, but most other branches seem a bit hit and miss.

What other species can you think of besides octopuses, which are so far from us on the tree?  I'm just coming up with a bunch of mammals.

Never mind them, they're stupid and cannot feel a thing.

Said by slaveowners about blacks, still said by some men about women, said by farmers about their animals and said by anglers about fish. The fact that you said something similar about the chicken you ate rang a bell: it's convenient to you that a chicken should be stupid because you like the taste of dead chickens.

I know it's nice to act as if you're very intelligent, but you're biassed. Try to be impartial first.

You really just compared black people and women to insects?  Seriously?

I think I'm just going to leave the discussion right where you put it.  ^.^

Which animals have a sense of self and which do not has not been completely determined yet in terms of scientific analyses by credible experts. Without such analyses it is just as premature to say that a species does not have a sense of self as it is to say that one does. However, there is a difference. It is that jumping to the conclusion that a species does have a sense of self tends to demonstrate a humane adjudication of living things while jumping to the conclusion that a species does not have a sense of self tends to demonstrate an inhumane adjudication of living things. For this reason it is my opinion that the latter is more detestable. Incidentally, I did not say in an absolute sense that insects have senses of selves. I said that I thought there was strong evidence that they have senses of selves. By contrast you stated in unequivocal terms that chickens did not have senses of selves.   

No, I said that insects don't have a sense of self, or at least that the vast majority do not.  I haven't studied every insect out there, of course, but every one that comes to mind is insignificantly low on the scale of neural function.

I said that chickens are stupid, and that it's questionable, in their case.  They're low enough on the scale of brain capacity that I don't feel bad about eating them. I haven't eaten a mammal in over a decade, though.

... and I really don't give a damn about a fish.

I really don't know - I tend to just stick with applying my morality to that which I come into contact with - because I'm not about to claim that I know what is morally right for anyone beyond that.....  we are animals - and I'm not going to expect myself to act any differently than any other animal......  

Yeah, certainly, I try to minimize unnecessary suffering in most of my activities. I'm against pointless animal testing, although I'm all for animal testing for medical reasons.  It sucks for the lab animal, sure, but their suffering is likely to reduce the suffering of humans ... and I care more about humans.

Lab rats are going to die in the millions (billions?), and I'm fine with that, as long as they're being used for useful research.  When we get to the tests to see how the bodily tissue of puppies responds to repeated impacts from baseball bats?  Yeah, I'm going to have a little problem there.  Duh.

I tend to buy free-range chickens, when it's financially viable, but I have no problem eating those.  I just have issue with the absolute adjective you used at the end there.

Any other animal.  When you get far enough down on the scale of neural function, I don't think animals are capable of actual suffering.  Any ant or roach that comes into my house is going to die, if I succeed in my attempts to kill it.

I am a huge animal lover and observing animals especially with my photography has really opened my eyes to things. I never understood why humans (not all of course) would think of themselves as higher knowledge and importance just because we can "speak" and "think". Dogs for instance can show compassion in their own way. They can problem solve and for some they can even tell when you are going to have a seizure or a heart attack! Now ask a human if they can do that without modern medicine :)

Yeah, pack animals are often pretty high up there, particularly mammals.  I like the way that we can co-opt their social instincts to more or less make them part of our pack, too.

They can problem solve and for some they can even tell when you are going to have a seizure or a heart attack! Now ask a human if they can do that without modern medicine :)

[citation needed]

The most I've heard about this is vague, anecdotal stories.  Dogs certainly sense distress in their human pack members, though, as they do in each other.  This makes them agitated, in turn, and sometimes makes them go "warn" other people.

"No, no, stop paying attention to him!  I'm distressed!  Come comfort me!"  *wag wag, slobber slobber*  ^.^

My sister, the vet tech, is very skeptical about these sorts of stories.  We're generally applying intention to their behavior, after the fact, after picking out rare incidents in which something like that seemed to happen.  People also suck at remembering sequences of events, particularly in situations of high stress.  Until I see a scientific study of a mechanism that allows dogs to detect impending heart attacks, before they happen, I don't buy it.

Very true. Seeing it from this perspective makes sense. I am not sure on the whole "sense of self" thing with every creature that lives but I will never consider them less as me.

Oh, and welcome to the group.  :-D

These sorts of discussions happen all the time.




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